In a definitive piece of multitasking, Carl Llewellyn notched the first winner of his fledgling training career by riding his own charge Run For Paddy to a short-head victory in the Scottish Grand National at Ayr yesterday. And although his dramatic last-stride snatching of the spoils was a dream start for the Welshman, it was a repeat dose of heartbreak for Ruby Walsh, denied by the minimum margin for the second successive year.
Llewellyn, 40, conjured three fine leaps from the 10-year-old, a 33-1 shot, in the straight to join battle with the three leaders, Royal Emperor, Idle Talk and Ladalko. Idle Talk was the first to crack, and although Royal Emperor led over the last, Ladalko had his measure on the run-in before Llewellyn forced Run For Paddy's muzzle in front in the final half-stride. "I wasn't sure I had won," said a delighted Llewellyn, "but Ruby thought I had just got up."
Llewellyn took over the trainer's licence at Weathercock House in Lambourn, from Mark Pitman just two weeks ago. "All credit has to go to my assistant, Paul Price," he added, "as he does the work on this one at home."
It was also the trainer's first success in the race as a jockey, giving him a full house of domestic Nationals, having previously won the real thing at Aintree and the Welsh version. "Ironically, my previous best in this race was on Sweet Duke, who was beaten by Jenny Pitman's Willsford 11 years ago," Llewellyn said. Walsh was pipped last year on Cornish Rebel, like Ladalko trained by Paul Nicholls.
For roads to Rome, read paths to the 2,000 Guineas. And at Newbury Barry Hills gained his second reward in three days for sticking with the most traditional, but increasingly eschewed, route to the goal, that of the trial race. Red Clubs added the Greenham Stakes to the Craven Stakes won by his stablemate Killybegs at Newmarket on Thursday.
Just five runners turned out for the seven-furlong prep, in which Red Clubs, ridden by his trainer's son Michael, bounced smartly out of the stalls and made every yard of the running. He quickened clear in the closing stages to beat the Ballydoyle raider Marcus Andronicus, the only other in the field with the Classic entry, a length and three-quarters.
Diminutive Red Clubs, a son of Red Ransom, has not grown much over the winter but has a heart in inverse proportion to his size. "He's only a pony," said Hills, "but he's got a great attitude. Though he's now shown he stays seven furlongs, a mile is another question, but his temperament is so good that he'll give himself every chance."
Hills reported Killybegs in rude health after his exertions during the week. "He lost only three kilos," he said, "and should improve considerably for the run. He's very laid back.
"Everyone has a different approach, of course, but I was very happy to run these colts in the races. Trials are important, we need them and they should be supported."
The filly equivalent race also went to the 6-4 favourite, in this case Richard Hannon-trained Nasheej, who beat Cantabria by a short-head after a spirited tussle. But neither Group Three result caused more than a ripple in the Classic markets; Red Clubs is a best-priced 33-1 and Nasheej 20-1. "She's good and she'll come on for that," said Hannon, "but I'm not sure she's up to winning a Guineas. But she's won her trial, so we'll give it a go."
Marcus Tregoning is one of the trainers to duck the trials with his star three-year-old, the 2,000 Guineas second favourite Sir Percy, who had his mental and physical sharpener in a racecourse gallop at Newbury on Friday. "He has come out of that in great shape," he said yesterday after welcoming back splendid stable veteran Mubtaker after a sixth triumph at the Berkshire course, "and it was just what he needed. He was on his toes beforehand but was so settled afterwards and is now within just a few pounds of his racing weight."
The news yesterday was less good for the Mark Johnston-trained Nakheel, who had been as low as 10-1 in the 2,000 Guineas lists. The colt, who had also been a Derby fancy, has suffered a stress fracture of his pelvis and is unlikely to run again before the second half of the season.Reuse content